Monthly Archives: October 2011

By Gideon Rachman

This time next year, Americans will be voting in the 2012 presidential election. The Republican party’s effort to choose a candidate to take on Barack Obama increasingly resembles speed-dating – with party loyalists giving swift consideration to candidate after candidate, before getting restless and moving onto the next prospect.

John Paul Rathbone

Colombia: “killer” state, or “model” state?

Larry Summers believes the latter. And the straight-talking former US Treasury secretary and president of Harvard is not known for his flattery either. “Colombia has gone from being a failed state to becoming a state that is now an international role model,” he said while visiting Bogotá last month. Read more

Gideon Rachman

With foreign intervention in Libya now formally over, after the UN vote yesterday, military strategists and diplomats are trying to make sense of the conflict. Here in Washington, there is a feeling that it was a “close run thing” (as Wellington once said of Waterloo). Military victories often take on the aura of inevitablity, after the event, but US officials are acutely aware how stretched the Nato alliance was by the Libyan war. Read more

Gideon Rachman

Rick Perry

Rick Perry. Getty Images.

Just a few months ago, Rick Perry, the governor of Texas, was the coming man in American presidential politics. When he announced his candidacy for the presidency, he shot into the lead amongst Republican voters – briefly commanding more than 40 per cent support. He looked presidential material – a long record of electoral and economic success in Texas, a strong appeal to the Tea Party and to Christian voters. All that, and good hair too.

But, now, in some polls, Perry is back down at 6 per cent. Others have him at 10. All the polls show the governor trailing not just Mitt Romney, but also Herman Cain, whose sole qualification is that he used to run a pizza firm. Read more

Tom Burgis

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. In the early hours of the morning, eurozone leaders emerged from their summit in Brussels with a deal designed to stem the sovereign debt crisis. The markets seem pleased but big questions on the details remain. We’ll bring you reactions, news and commentary as we get it throughout the day.

All times are London time. By Tom Burgis on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

18.34: It’s time to wrap up the live blog for today. But keep reading FT.com through the evening for:

18.13: Der Spiegel has a nice tale about whether or not Angela Merkel did in fact apologise to Silvio Berlusconi for appearing to smirk when asked publicly if she still had faith in his leadership.

18.07: Chatham House has just published a paper arguing that international debt bailout systems are ill-equipped to handle any further instability.

“As the problems in the eurozone deepen and threaten to spread globally, action is required to strengthen financial safety nets beyond what was agreed by EU Heads of State on 27 October 2011.”

Read the full report by Stephen Pickford, former managing director at the UK Treasury and former executive director at the IMF.

18.00: An evening update of the day’s developments:

  • At the end of trading in Europe, the FTSE Eurofirst 300 finished 3.69 per cent higher for the day at 1,020. US stocks rose too, with GDP numbers that matched expectations adding to a positive reception for the EU’s moves
  • Despite the ebullience in equities markets, concerns remained over soveriegn debt in the eurozone. Italian government bond yields first sank to 5.7 per cent, before rebounding to 5.9 per cent, near their euro-era highs
  • Questions remain over the details of the eurozone deal, notably over the terms of the new bonds that will replace existing Greek debt as part of the agreed 50 per cent “haircut” (see 13.17), how banks will go about raising new capital and where the cash to fund the various eurozone plans will come from
  • European officials are keen to involve China and other Bric nations in a fund to buy eurozone debt, though here too there are no firm plans yet

 Read more

Tom Burgis

Welcome back to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis as we head into the evening. Europe’s leaders have gathered in Brussels to try to deliver a solution to the sovereign debt crisis. It has been a nervy day in the markets and national capitals – all of which you can read about on our live coverage from earlier on. Tonight we should discover whether Europe’s leaders can overcome their differences and chart a course towards recovery or whether they will once again fail to reach a deal. We’ll bring you news and commentary as we get it.

All times are London time. By Tom Burgis on the news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

22.38: We’re going to wrap up our live coverage from London now. But fear not, the FT reporters at the summit will not rest until we have an outcome from the evening’s second summit, of all 17 eurozone leaders. See ft.com for all the latest news.

It seems only right to give the final word on today’s developments to Justin Timberlake, whose new film, In Time, has the strap line: “Tomorrow is a luxury you can’t afford.” Over the coming hours we’ll discover whether European leaders – and the markets – share that sentiment.

22.35: A quick recap on what we know so far

  • The 27 EU leaders agreed a statement as per a leaked draft, fleshing out some headline details of how the bank recapitalisation will work
  • Silvio Berlusconi’s letter to his fellow eurozone leaders included a commitment to raise the Italian retirement age to 67
  • Nicolas Sarkozy will call his Chinese counterpart tomorrow in what seems to be part of efforts to win Chinese investment for a fund to buy eurozone debt
  • US markets dealt with all of this pretty calmly, finishing the day in the black

 Read more

Roula Khalaf

Here’s the problem with the Arab League. A ministerial delegation is due in Syria today to convince Bashar al-Assad’s regime to stop killing protestors demanding the president’s ouster, and agree to an Arab reconciliation plan.

Qatar, the exceedingly wealthy autocracy which has emerged as the unlikely champion of the oppressed across the Arab world, is leading the delegation, despite initial grumbles from Damascus. But the six-member mission also includes Egypt, Oman, Algeria and Yemen. Right, Yemen, where the government has been denounced by many of its fellow Arab states for rejecting a Gulf plan to transfer power away from the president, Ali Abdallah Saleh. Read more

Esther Bintliff

Welcome to our continuing coverage of the eurozone crisis. Today’s summit in Brussels could, in years to come, be viewed as a turning point in the eurozone crisis. Or, it could be just one more extended meeting at which policymakers tried – and failed – to agree on a plan big enough to calm the storm in Europe’s sovereign debt markets. We’ll bring you news and commentary until the summit begins.

All times are London time. By Esther Bintliff and David Crouch on the world news desk in London, with contributions from FT correspondents around the world.

17.10: The summit is about to begin and we’re continuing in a fresh post: Eurozone crisis: the evening session.

16.45: A reminder of the timetable for tonight:

  • 17.00 – 18.00 (London time): the leaders of all 27 EU member states meet
  • 18:15 onwards: the summit of eurozone leaders begins

Statements and possibly a press conference are expected when the meetings close, but they will likely continue long into the night.

Stanley Pignal, Brussels correspondents, reports:

“EU leaders have been arriving for the first of tonight’s two meetings, which will involve all 27 member states before the eurozone-only leaders convene afterwards.

 Read more

Gideon Rachman

Is it possible for politicians to be both living in the past and ahead of their time? That is how I feel about the Tory Eurosceptics, who have just given David Cameron a nasty shock, by defying the government in large numbers to demand a referendum on British membership of the European Union. The vote took place about an hour ago, and it looks as if more than 80 Tories – more than one in four of the party’s MPs – have joined the rebellion. Read more

John Paul Rathbone

Photo AFP

“Bring out your dead,” intones a raggedy man as he pushes a wheelbarrow through London’s medieval streets. “I’m not dead,” insists a corpse as he is tossed on top of other bodies in the celebrated spoof, “Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. There was something of that macabre spirit in Argentina’s elections yesterday. The Perónist dead were repeatedly invoked, and it transpired they were not so dead after all. For one, Cristina Fernández won a second term with a sweeping 54 per cent of the vote – the biggest electoral lead since Juan Domingo Perón, the patron saint of Argentine politics, returned to power in 1973. Read more